Archive for the ‘Bobby Jones’ Category

Links to Lyle’s Other Sites

April 22, 2016

My book, Trials and Triumphs of Golf’s Greatest Champions:  A Legacy of Hope is being released in May and you can read more posts at my websites:

Find my Facebook for the book here

Find my blog and book at my website here

Trials and Triumphs of Golf’s Greatest Champions: A Legacy of Hope, brings us inside the world of seven champion golfers whose strength of character sustained them against the physical and emotional trials that threatened both their careers and lives.  Their stories demonstrate  the strength and resilience – indeed, the stubborn persistence – of the human spirit.

 

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Excerpt from my book “Never Despair” – It All Comes Back to Character

February 4, 2015

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.

Khalil Gibran

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

– Winston Churchill


“Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the game where it lies.”[i] So claimed O.B. Keeler, the famed golf writer who, from 1916-1930, travelled over 120,000 miles covering the career of Bobby Jones. We do indeed play the game where it lies. Each day is different, even if the course remains the same, and the challenges are at once maddening and intoxicating.

We play the game. It doesn’t matter if frost covers the ground in winter, if rain water fills the cups on the greens in the spring, or if wind blows sand in our eyes after a bunker shot in the summer. We just love to play.

Walter Simpson, in his 1892 book The Art of Golf, seemed to understand the golfer’s psyche. He wrote that the game “has some drawbacks. It is possible, by too much of it, to destroy the mind.”[ii] His admonition notwithstanding, true golfers rarely get enough of it. We know that if we keep plugging along and keep trying, sometimes good things come to us when we least expect them, just as in life.

Golf is a game with incredible staying power, having been played for over 500 years. Men and women; young and old; royalty and artisans; CEOs and taxi drivers; people with bad backs and creaky knees; amputees and the blind, all play it. A few even play from wheelchairs. What is it that draws people to golf and holds them in its grip until they are too old and feeble to play any longer? The reasons are many. The game engages both body and mind in a very particular way, and some might argue, the soul as well.

James Balfour, who began playing golf in Scotland in the 1840s, explained it this way in Reminiscences of Golf on St Andrews Links:

It is a fine, open-air, athletic exercise, not violent, but bringing into play nearly all the muscles of the body…It is a game of skill, needing mind and thought and judgment, as well as a cunning hand. It is also a social game, where one may go out with a friend or with three, and enjoy mutual intercourse…It never palls or grows stale, as morning by morning the players appear at the teeing ground with as keen a relish as if they had never seen a club for a month.[iii]

It is a game requiring not only physical skill but the ability to control our emotions, as we try to beat our best scores each time out, as well as the scores of our friends who join us in the endeavor.

The game is different because the ball must wait for us. It isn’t baseball or tennis where a ball comes towards us that we have to react to in a split second. The golf ball just lies there passively, sometimes seeming to taunt us.  It’s up to us to make it go.  “There is no hurry,” wrote John Low in Concerning Golf, rather “we fix our own time, we give ourselves every chance of success.”  It is this deliberate quality of the game which “makes it so testing to the nerves; for the very slowness which gives us opportunity for calculation draws our nerves out to the highest tension…”[iv]

Golf certainly can make our stomachs churn and scramble our brains.  Mark Twain famously described it as “a good walk spoiled.”  In the short space of the fifteen minutes or so it takes to play a hole, it’s possible to experience a full gamut of emotions – you name it and it can be felt, in a million different combinations.

Fear and trepidation of the opening tee shot, followed by joy and relief after a great drive nailed straight down the middle, then consternation at the fat second shot plunked into the water, and ending with sadness and disappointment as we walk off the green with a triple-bogey. Herein is a great part of the golf’s attraction.

People are also drawn to the game because it takes them into the great outdoors; to open spaces away from the office. Theodore Arnold Haultain discussed the tactile lure of the course, each with its own personality and varied terrain, in his book The Mystery of Golf. Speaking of the delights of the game in 1910, he described the varied elements that stimulate our senses:

The great breeze that greets you on the hill, the whiffs of air – pungent, penetrating – that come through green things growing, the hot smell of pines at noon, the wet smell of fallen leaves in autumn, the damp and heavy air of the valley at eve, the lungs full of oxygen, the sense of freedom on a great expanse, the exhilaration, the vastness, the buoyancy, the exaltation.[v]

“We live in small spaces,” wrote Henry Leach in The Happy Golfer, “with many walls and low roofs.”[vi] Away from the city, and its cacophony of angry noises that strangle silence, the golf course provides us with a few hours of refuge. Steaming asphalt and concrete, honking horns, and the incessant buzz and clatter of people coming and going gives way to a quiet oasis of cool grass, green trees, chirping birds and the smell of pine needles. “A golfer on the links is uplifted to a simpler, freer self,” claimed Leach.[vii]

Michael Murphy, in his classic book Golf in the Kingdom, spoke of golf in terms of “walkin’ fast across the countryside and feelin’ the wind and watchin’ the sun go down and seein’ yer friends hit good shots and hittin’ some yourself.  It’s love and it’s feelin’ the splendor o’ this good world.”  To David Forgan, who crafted “The Golfer’s Creed” in the late nineteenth century, golf offers “a sweeping away of mental cobwebs, genuine recreation of tired tissues….It is a cure for care, an antidote to worry.”[viii]

ENDNOTES

Epigrams after chapter title from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes

[i] Sidney Matthew, Bobby: The Life and Times of Bobby Jones (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Sports Media Group, 2005), 48.

[ii] Walter G. Simpson, The Art of Golf (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1892), 5.

[iii] James Balfour, Reminiscences of Golf on St Andrews Links (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1887), 54.

[iv] John L. Low, Concerning Golf (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1903), 6-7.

[v] Theodore Arnold Haultain, The Mystery of Golf. 2nd ed. (New York: Macmillan Company, 1910), 244.

[vi] Henry Leach, The Happy Golfer (London: Macmillan and Co., 1914), 13.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Michael Murphy, Golf in the Kingdom (New York: Viking Arkana, 1994), 65; “Golfer’s Creed” by Forgan,in The American Golf Teaching Method (Ft. Pierce, FL: United States Golf Teachers Federation, 1999), 68.

Excerpt from my book “Never Despair: : Trials and Triumphs of Golf’s Great Champions”

August 26, 2014

            “Golf is the closest game to the game we call life.  You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the game where it lies .”  So claimed O.B. Keeler, the famed golf writer who, from 1916-1930, travelled over 120,000 miles covering the career of Bobby Jones.  We do indeed play the game where it lies.  Each day is different, even if the course remains the same, and the challenges are at once maddening and intoxicating.  We play the game.  It doesn’t matter if frost covers the ground in winter, if rain water fills the cups on the greens in the spring, or if wind blows sand in our eyes after a bunker shot in the summer. 

            We just love to play.  Walter Simpson, in his 1892 book The Art of Golf, seemed to understand the golfer’s psyche.  He wrote that the game “has some drawbacks.  It is possible, by too much of it, to destroy the mind. ”  His admonition notwithstanding, true golfers rarely get enough of it.  We know that if we keep plugging along and keep trying, sometimes good things come to us when we least expect them, just as in life.

            Golf is a game with incredible staying power, having been played for over 500 years.  Men and women; young and old; royalty and artisans; CEOs and taxi drivers; people with bad backs and creaky knees; amputees and the blind, all play it.  A few even play from wheelchairs. What is it that draws people to golf and holds them in its grip until they are too old and feeble to play any longer?  The reasons are many.  The game engages both body and mind in a very particular way, and some might argue, the soul as well.  

            James Balfour, who began playing golf in Scotland in the 1840s, explained it this way in Reminiscences of Golf on St. Andrews Links

It is a fine, open-air, athletic exercise, not violent, but bringing into play nearly all the muscles of the body…It is a game of skill, needing mind and thought and judgment, as well as a cunning hand.  It is also a social game, where one may go out with a friend or with three, and enjoy mutual intercourse…It never palls or grows stale, as morning by morning the players appear at the teeing ground with as keen a relish as if they had never seen a club for a month.

It is a game requiring not only physical skill but the ability to control our emotions, as we try to beat our best scores each time out, as well as the scores of our friends who join us in the endeavor. 

            The game is different because the ball must wait for us.  It isn’t baseball or tennis where a ball comes towards us that we have to react to in a split second.  The golf ball just lies there passively, sometimes seeming to taunt us.  It’s up to us to make it go.  “There is no hurry,” wrote John Low in Concerning Golf, “we fix our own time, we give ourselves every chance of success.”  It is this deliberate quality of the game which “makes it so testing to the nerves; for the very slowness which gives us opportunity for calculation draws our nerves out to the highest tension…”  

            Golf certainly can make our stomachs churn and scramble our brains.  Mark Train famously described it as “a good walk spoiled.”  In the short space of the fifteen minutes or so it takes to play a hole, it’s possible to experience a full gamut of emotions – you name it and it can be felt, in a million different combinations.  Fear and trepidation of the opening tee shot, followed by joy and relief after a great drive nailed straight down the middle, then anger and consternation at the fat second shot plunked into the water, and ending with sadness and disappointment when we walk off the green with a triple-bogey.  Herein is the great part of the golf’s attraction . 

            People are also drawn to the game because it takes them into the great outdoors; to open spaces away from the office. Theodore Haultain discussed the tactile lure of the course, each with its own personality and varied terrain, in his book The Mystery of Golf .  Speaking of the delights of the game in 1910, he described the varied elements that stimulate our senses:

The great breeze that greets you on the hill, the whiffs of air – pungent, penetrating – that come through green things growing, the hot smell of pines at noon, the wet smell of fallen leaves in autumn, the damp and heavy air of the valley at eve, the lungs full of oxygen, the sense of freedom on a great expanse, the exhilaration, the vastness, the buoyancy, the exaltation. 

“We live in small spaces,” wrote Henry Leach in The Happy Golfer, “with many walls and low roofs .”  Away from the city, and its cacophony of angry noises that strangle silence, the golf course provides us with a few hours of refuge.  Steaming asphalt and concrete, honking horns, and the incessant buzz and clatter of people coming and going gives way to a quiet oasis of cool grass, green trees, chirping birds and the smell of pine needles.  “A golfer on the links is uplifted to a simpler, freer self,” claimed Leach.    

            Michael Murphy, in his classic book Golf in the Kingdom, spoke of golf in terms of “walkin’ fast across the countryside and feelin’ the wind and watchin’ the sun go down and seein’ yer friends hit good shots and hittin’ some yourself.  It’s love and it’s feelin’ the splendor o’ this good world .”  To David Forgan, who crafted “The Golfer’s Creed” in the late nineteenth century, golf offers “a sweeping away of mental cobwebs, genuine recreation of tired tissues….It is a cure for care, an antidote to worry.” As Balfour and Murphy point out, golf is also a social game, one we play with fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends in our Saturday foursome. We even play with strangers who join us on the first tee when we sneak out for a quick nine holes after work. The game allows time for conversation between shots. “How’s the job going?” “How are the kids?” “What about that game last night?” “How’s the new car?” There is also considerable time for thought directed at how we are succeeding – or failing – in getting the ball from the teeing ground to the hole, as we commiserate with each other around the course.

            We may enjoy the park-like setting of the golf course, the competition, and the chit-chat, but the most intriguing element of the game is trying to hit that little damn ball where we want it to go.  “Without doubt,” wrote Hautlain, “the ball must be impelled by muscular movement; how to coordinate that muscular movement – that is the physiological factor in the fascination of golf .”   

            When one considers the physics involved, this is a daunting task.  We apply about 32 pounds of muscles to swing a golf club almost four feet long in an arc of twenty feet around our body, while shoulders and hips turn, arms move up and down and five separate torques may act upon the club .  All of this motion is focused on making contact with a ball 1.68 inches in diameter squarely in the center of a two inch square club face on a path that will propel the ball with sufficient force to send it the correct distance to the target. 

            The ball is in contact with the face of the club for half a thousandth of a second (as the club travels about three quarters of an inch), and the margins of error are incredibly slim.  If the club face is open or closed just 2 or 3 degrees with a driver, the ball will fly 20 yards or more off line, depending on the speed of the swing .  Sometimes just hitting the ball at all is a challenge, and a proper club/ball contact that sends the ball straight to our intended target seems a minor miracle.  All of these gyrations are produced with one objective: to put that ball in a four and a quarter inch hole placed in the ground hundreds of yards away.  All the while around we have to negotiate water hazards, bunkers, trees, and perhaps wind and rain – in addition to our own nerves and tempers.

            Yet, in spite of these considerable challenges, on the occasions when things work, by design or divine intervention, and the ball is struck solidly online, it provides a palpable physical thrill.  The feel of an iron crisply pinching the ball off the turf and whistling it to the green; the drive smacked right in the middle of the clubface and blasted down the fairway; the 40-foot putt stroked with perfect line and speed and rolled into the bottom of the hole.  As the old golf adage goes, “one good shot keeps you coming back.”  All the rest, the ones topped in the water or sliced into the woods, are shoved aside, as we choose to revel in our modest successes.  “I did it once,” we say to ourselves.  “I can surely do it again, even better.”  Our minds and muscles drive us, and our memories plug into feelings of how we did it right yesterday, a week ago, or ten years ago .

            Pembroke Vaile, an intriguing and pensive man from the last century, wrote expressively on the “soul” of golf.  Among its elusive elements, he claimed, is “the sheer beauty of the flight of the ball,” and the almost “sensuous delight which comes to the man who created that beauty, and knows how and why he did it .”  There is something intoxicating in the harmonically pure meeting of club and ball.  Ben Hogan, one of the best to ever play the game, loved to practice and hit golf balls from sunup to sundown.  He once said that the perfectly struck shot “goes from the ball, up the club’s shaft, right to your heart .”  This is the true essence of what has attracted people to the game for 500 years.  For whether it’s a hickory shafted club from the 1800s or a modern graphite shafted titanium driver, the player still has to execute the shot properly.   

            Golf is a game that has been called a microcosm of life, as every day offers a new set of challenges.  To succeed you must work hard to develop your gifts, possess healthy doses of self-confidence and patience, and persevere when times get tough.  Golf has been described as a “self-reliant, silent, sturdy,” game, which “leans less on its fellows,” and “loves best to overcome obstacles alone .”  Success or failure depends on one person, ourselves.  There are no teammates to help us out when things go wrong, and unlike baseball, we have to play our foul balls.  To

excel at the highest levels, particular and rare talents are required.  Not only physical skill, but a strong and resolved character is necessary in order to overcome the adversity that will undoubtedly come.  As Charles Blair Macdonald, one of the founding fathers of American golf put it in 1898:  “No game brings out more unerringly the true character of a man or teaches him a better lesson in self-control .”

            The people in this book all possessed confidence in their abilities and were dogged in their pursuit of excellence.  But without natural talent, they would never have been heard from.  Each of us is born into this world with certain gifts, which, if fully exercised, lead us to the life path we are meant to follow.  There are different kinds of gifts, and different kinds of work, but the same God works those gifts in all men  and women.  So says the Bible.  To express our gifts and build a fulfilling life around them is the highest expression of our true essence.

            These champions – all of whom, with the exception of caddy Bruce Edwards, are members of the World Golf Hall of Fame  – came from different times and had different backgrounds, but they all shared a gift for the game of golf.  This is what defined them, just as our gifts define us.  Horton Smith, winner of two Masters Tournaments, claimed that “golfing genius strikes seldom.  It is something that cannot be attained by practicing any more than a really great voice.  It can be developed but before a man is a genius at golf, he must have within him a spark that is the gift of the Almighty .”  Three-time British Open champion Bob Ferguson said over a century ago that nerve, enthusiasm, and practice are the three essentials to succeed in golf.  But to be great requires the gift .  

            To be great requires the gift.  It is this unique and branded gift that set the truly great above all the rest.  The men in this book: Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Charlie Sifford, Ken Venturi, Bruce Edwards; and the lady, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, all had gifts they exercised freely and rigorously, never squandering them, even when circumstances might have forgiven them for fading away quietly. They never quit, even when things looked bleak. Bobby Jones  claimed that golf “is the most rewarding of all games because it possesses a very definite value as a molder or developer of character.”  It was character which guided these people’s lives and girded them against persistent struggles in the face of adversity that threatened their very lives.

            Harry Vardon was at the peak of his game when struck down with tuberculosis, but he resolved to play on, winning two more British Opens, and acting as a mentor to promising new players; Bobby Jones was stricken with a rare and debilitating spinal disease that would confine him to a wheelchair when he was still a young man, but he kept building the Masters Tournament, writing about golf, and being an ambassador for the game; Ben Hogan nearly died in a car crash that permanently damaged his body and caused him chronic pain for the rest of his days, but he came back and won six more major championships, and built a company bearing his name. 

            Babe Didrikson Zaharias was struck down by colon cancer but wouldn’t quit.  She became a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society and was an inspiration to fellow sufferers, especially after winning another Women’s U.S. Open before the cancer returned; Charlie Sifford was the victim of incessant racism which included harassment and death threats, but he never bowed, and was a winner at the highest levels of the game, paving the way for the likes of Tiger Woods.

            Ken Venturi lost his game after a car accident and later to carpal tunnel syndrome, but would capture the U.S. Open in some of the most trying conditions the championship ever produced and later have a successful broadcasting career; Bruce Edwards was afflicted with ALS, or “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” but kept going and inspired people with his fight, carrying the bag for one final major victory with boss Tom Watson before succumbing to his illness.  What kept them going?  They all loved the game.  It was what they did.

            “However mean your life is, meet it and live it.”  These words of Henry David Thoreau could describe the lives of all the people in this book, who faced tremendous physical and emotional trials in their lives, yet persevered and overcame. The strength and resilience of the human spirit – indeed, its stubborn persistence – was a common denominator in facing their struggles. Golf can be a vexing and cruel game, and teaches us much about ourselves. 

            Golf has been described as “a contest, a duel, or a melee, calling for courage, skill, strategy and self-control.  It is a test of temper, a trial of honor, a revealer of character.”  Jerome Travers, the great amateur of the early 20th century, believed the character of an individual is laid bare under “the microscope of golf influence.  The good and bad qualities in our make-up are exposed to view under the spell which golf casts over man …”  In the end, as with most of life, our success hinges on the character and spirit we possess. 

            How would our tempers be tested if we were struck down by a serious illness, a near-fatal accident, or some career-threatening injury from which we would never fully recover?  How would our honor be preserved if we had people telling us we were washed-up, unwanted, and persona non-grata on the golf course? 

            How would our character be revealed if Lou Gehrig’s disease robbed us of the ability to walk and talk?  

            How would we face the fear?  Would we give in to self-pity, or persevere and keep going?  Where would we find the strength to actually carry on with our careers with any measure of success? 

            The people in this book displayed their character vigorously by not giving up or giving in to the suffering that afflicted them.  This is not a chronicle of the tournaments they won and lost, but an examination of how they applied their gifts and pushed themselves to achieve success.  Champion golfers have been identified as sharing certain qualities; among them tough-mindedness, confidence, self-sufficiency , and emotional stability – all of which provide players with the armor to press on when things look hopeless.  The very nature of the game prepares one for adversity, and rewards a persevering spirit that doesn’t accept surrender without a fight.  “It is merely a blessing,” claimed Jerome Travers, “if our temperament is such that we are able to blind ourselves to the drudgery which usually goes with indomitable persistence and hard application ” in overcoming obstacles. 

            The stories of these champions bear witness to their courage and discipline, but also to the love and support of family and friends who helped them.  As Robert Tyre Jones, grandfather of Bobby Jones, claimed, “No man ever accomplishes anything really worthwhile alone.  There are always two additional forces at work – other people and Providence .”  Their families and friends bolstered them, but the game itself offered them refuge and therapy for both body and mind when they were suffering. 

            In recent years Golf Digest magazine has featured a series called “Golf Saved My Life,” which focuses on this therapeutic side of the game.  Whether the men and women telling their stories have struggled with cancer, autism, bipolar disorder, or serious injuries brought on by war or accidents, they all reveal how the game has helped give renewed purpose to their lives. 

            This theme is nothing new.  In 1965 Golf Journal ran the story of a James Ranni, 62-years old at the time, who had suffered a major stroke years earlier.  The neurosurgeon who saved his life was a golfer, and had come to see the game “as an additional therapeutic measure to help patients overcome serious handicaps and regain health that has been lost.”  As for Ranni, he claimed that when people spoke of “how close you can get to God on a golf course,” he knew exactly what they meant.  “I can’t tell you how important it is to me to be an example of what golf can do in rehabilitating the disabled .” 

            The National Amputee Golf Association was formed in 1954 in response to World War II veterans returning home with missing limbs and wanting to get back into the game.  It has followed the motto, “It’s not what you’ve lost, but what you have left that counts.”   Bert Shepard, who lost his right leg in WWII, spoke to Golf World in 1997 of how people claimed he had “the guts to go out and play golf and all that.  What about some credit to the game of golf?  I’ve seen guys who never got out of the house get fascinated with golf, and it changes their lives .” 

            Thomas M’Auliffe is a wonderful example of doing his best with what he had left.  In spite of losing both arms in a horrible accident when he was 9-years old, he learned to play golf.  In 1915, the then 22-year old told his story to The Golf Monthly.  By gripping the club between his cheek and shoulder, he was able to hit the ball 100 yards with a driver.  With a “combined swing and jerk of the body and shoulder,” the article explained, “he is able to give the ball a telling stroke,” and it noted that he had shot 108 at the Buffalo Country Club.  M’Auliffe was certainly a positive thinker.  “I never permit the thought of my accident to take possession of my mind,” he declared, “nor do I think of anything being impossible for me to overcome.  When the time comes, I just go ahead as best I may, and somehow, someway, I generally get there without any great difficulties .”

            A decade before Thomas M’Auliffe, there was the story of Old Tom Morris.  His son Tommy, who like his father won four British Opens, died on Christmas Day 1875, three months after his wife and baby died during child birth.  Old Tom would see his wife and all five of his children die before him, and he claimed that if not for his God and his golf, he would not have found the strength to go on .  The game sustained him – he died in 1908 at the age of 86 – and played up until the end.  The game was a soothing therapy for him and others, just as it would be for Vardon, Jones, Hogan, Zaharias, Sifford, Venturi, and Edwards.

            Golf is a test, Arnold Hautlain claimed, “not so much of the muscle, or even of the brain and nerves of a man,” as it is a test of his or her innermost self…

…of his soul and spirit; of his whole character and disposition; of his temperament; of his habit of mind; of the entire content of his mental and moral nature… it is a physiological, psychological, and moral fight with yourself; it is a test of mastery over self .

            What is there to learn from the challenges these golfers faced and how they overcame them?  Why should we care?  Hautlain once again offers insight.  “In a picture, a sonata, a statue – the color, the sound, the form assuredly may interest us,” but these “are but vehicles for the artist’s thought and emotion.”  He continues:

It is the artist’s conception of life that is so interesting.  So it is with sport.  We like immensely to know exactly how a man boxes or fences or drives; but underneath this, we like immensely to know how he fights the battle of life; for he will do the one as he does the other – that we feel. [italics added]  So there is a great kinship between artist and sportsman.  Each reveals himself in his work; and it is in this self-revelation that humanity takes an absorbing interest. 

The professionals play golf, while we play at it; they know they can succeed, we hope we can.      For those who have the gift of golf, we wonder what it is that makes them special.  This is especially true when they triumph over adversity that could just as well crush them.  What are they really like?  As a spectator once asked a reporter who was covering Babe Zaharias, “Is she tough?”  “Is she nice?” “I’d sure like to know how she really is.  I mean, how she really is .”  We want to know about their lives, but are at the mercy of what they tell us, or want us to know.

We do our best to find out what they are really like?  In the heat of battle, how do they react?  How do they deal with victory and defeat, both on and off the course?  These are questions this book attempts to shed new light on. 

            These individuals, with the exception of Mr. Sifford, have all passed away, but their struggles are as relevant today as ever.  They were connected, in more than a casual way, to each other by the game.  Consider Harry Vardon, the greatest player of his era, knew Old Tom Morris and played with Bobby Jones in the latter’s first U.S. Open in 1920.  He told reporters the young Jones would be one of the very best golfers ever seen, and was right.  After Jones retired in 1930, he played an exhibition in Houston attended by Babe Zaharias, which “fired up” her own golf aspirations.  Earlier that same year, Jones started the Masters Tournament, which Ben Hogan won twice.  Jones used to say if he had to choose one man to hit one shot to win a major championship, he would pick Hogan because of his “spiritual ” assets.  Hogan, late in his career, saw a tenacity in Ken Venturi that he admired, and took him under his wing.  They became great friends, and Ken was a pallbearer at Hogan’s funeral. 

            Venturi befriended Charlie Sifford in those days when racism dogged him.  When the restaurant at Pensacola Country Club wouldn’t let Charlie eat there, Venturi spoke up, and took his own breakfast and joined his friend in the locker room.  Bruce Edwards worked for Tom Watson, whose teacher was Byron Nelson, the same man who tutored Ken Venturi.  The first tournament Edwards and Watson won together was the Byron Nelson Classic.  Amazingly, the chain of golf history is often connected by one or two links, much less than the well known “six degrees of separation.”  

            The talent of the seven people in this book, in concert with character, defined the lives and created more links in a chain going back to the beginnings of the game.  Today, we still remember them.  When Old Tom Morris died over a hundred years ago, his achievements as a golfer were well known and documented, and were sure to endure.  The greatest moral of his life, it was stressed upon his passing, was that “no matter in what sphere, it is character that achieves the greatest victories.”   As Arnold Hautlain wrote plainly, “It all comes back to character; not intellect or acumen or ability…just character .”

            In many ways, the legacy of how these champions dealt with the physical and emotional trials life handed them is more impressive than the records they set on the golf course.  “We define and admire greatness,” wrote Mark Frost in his wonderful book, The Greatest Game Ever Played, “not only by the magnitude of achievement but also for the degree of difficulty that person has to .”

The Temper of Bobby Jones

February 12, 2014

The following is an excerpt of my book, Never Despair, which I hope to finish by the coming spring:

According to Grantland Rice, Bobby Jones had “the face of an angel and the temper of a timber wolf,” and with each missed shot his “sunny smile” could turn “suddenly into a black storm.”

This vicious temper was a character flaw Bobby would struggle with for years.  It almost did him in, and heaped considerable criticism upon him.  As Alexa Stirling, his childhood friend recalled, by the time Jones was eight he was obviously destined to become a remarkable player.  “He was a handsome boy, with a gentle, wry way of smiling,”  Even then, adults watched his game with envy.  “However, he had one flaw – his temper.  Let him make a poor shot and he’d turn livid with rage, throw his club after the ball, or break it over his knee, or kick at the ground and let out a stream of very adult oaths.”  Off the course his manners were impeccable, but on it, he was a terror.

Even so, in 1917 and 1918 his game was good enough to capture the Southern Amateur. When World War I broke out, Jones and Sterling played in numerous exhibition matches sponsored by the Red Cross.  She never forgot one moment.  On the eighth hole at Brae Burn in Boston in 1917, “he missed an easy shot.  I saw the blood climb his neck and flood his face.  Then he picked up his ball, took a full pitcher’s windup and threw the ball into the woods.  A gasp of surprise and shock went through the large crowd watching us.”  Later, when she berated him, Jones shot back, “I don’t give a damn what anybody thinks of me.”  He told her he only got mad at himself.  Suddenly, she saw him as “a 15-year old boy driven by the demand of perfection he made of himself.”  When he fell short of his expectations, disappointment turned to rage.  “Worst of all, he knew that these temper outbursts released a psychological poison within him that upset his game.”  Jones would remember that day as well.  “I read the pity in Alexa’s soft brown eyes and finally settled down, but not before I had made a complete fool of myself.”  

Jones’s fiery temper was not easily squelched.  Jerome Travers, 1915 U.S. Open champion, recalled a 1918 exhibition he played with Jones in Canada.  “On the first green, Bobby missed a small putt and became so enraged he hurled his club far over the heads of the crowd into a cluster of trees and stubble bordering the course.”  People gave Jones a lot of slack due to his young age, and since he was a young star with plenty of charisma, he was an acceptable “bad boy.”  Consider the bad behavior displayed on the course by Tiger Woods over the years and a comparison can be made.  Stars get preferential treatment, and, if not condoned, their poor comportment is more easily excused than that of the run-of-the-mill player.  Not everyone gave Jones a pass, however.  After the Brae Burn incident, a newspaper commented that his outbursts would have to be contained “if this player expects to rank with the best in the country.  Although Jones is only a boy, his display of temper when things went wrong did not appeal to the gallery.”   

As Alexa Stirling knew, perfectionism drove Jones.  His mentor Stewart Maiden claimed he was “certainly born with the soul of a perfectionist looking only for perfection.”  Charlie Yates, a legend of Georgia golf and friend of Jones, remembered Jones getting upset with a shot that landed close to the hole.  Yates asked why he was mad.  “I wanted to make it come in left to right and it went in right to left.”  Bernard Darwin, who covered the game from the days of Harry Vardon to Jack Nicklaus, noted that “Bobby did hate missing a shot.  Perhaps that’s why he missed so few…He set himself an impossibly high standard; he thought it an act of incredible folly if not a positive crime to make a stroke that was not exactly as it ought to be made and as he knew he could make it.”  Even so, neither Harry Vardon before him, nor Ben Hogan after him – both perfectionists in their own right – ever threw clubs or swore on the golf course.  Jones’ struggle with his temper would continue, and his emergence as a champion would be inexorably tied to overcoming it.

Harry Vardon Gives Way to Bobby Jones

October 12, 2013

Below is an excerpt from a book I am writing called Never Despair: Trials and Triumphs of Golf’s Great Champions.

In  1927 the British Open was played over the Old Course at St. Andrews, never one of Harry Vardon’s favorite venues.  Bobby Jones won that year, with a record score of 285.  “What a dramatic little episode that must have been on the third green at St. Andrews,” recorded the Literary Digest,

when Bobby Jones, with his retinue of 5,000 hero worshippers, met old Harry Vardon, who was playing the homeward nine. The correspondent draws a graphic picture of Vardon, conspicuous for his loneliness, swallowed up the milling mob which swarmed in Jones’s wake. What thoughts must have burned through Vardon’s brain as he stood…above his ball, arms outstretched to fend off the rabble which threatened to trample him.

Perhaps Harry recalled the day at Prestwick in 1914, when the thundering herd cheered him to his 6th Open championship.  Vardon knew his time had passed, and when he looked at Jones, he realized here “was one so young and yet who had the game at his finger tips,” innately knowing that “he would be one of the very best golfers ever seen.”  This precocious Jones boy was the vanguard of change, noted the article:

The old order changeth, yielding place to new. Sport can be mercilessly cruel. There is pathos in the picture of Vardon struggling to save his ball as the man-pack surges around the latest Caesar. Few in that thrill-drugged crowd noticed Harry Vardon. Fewer still recognized him if they saw him. Some day even Bobby Jones will know that stilly quiet, the silence that roars with the echoes of vanished ghosts.

David Joy and the St. Andrews Golf Festival

April 28, 2012
David Joy as Old Tom

David Joy as Old Tom at Younger Hall, March 31, 2012

I have written about my time spent in St. Andrews, but feel the need to give a public thank you to Mr. David Joy, author, artist and the man who since 1990 has been doing his one-man show on the life of Old Tom Morris, who was kind enough to meet with me and give me a tour of his studio.  Some of you may David from the commercials he made with John Cleese for Titleist golf balls a few years ago, or from his books The Scrapbook of Old Tom Morris and St. Andrews & the Open Championship. Anyway, I contacted Mr. Joy before leaving, telling him I was a big fan and asked if we might be able to meet.  He thanked me for the kind words and told him to ring him when I got into town. 

I did and we met for a pint and a chat at the Dunvegan, a wonderful bar/hotel two blocks from the Old Course that has a room devoted to David’s illustrations of Open Champions.  The place has a warm, friendly atmosphere and before I left he invited me to come out to his studio the next week.  He lives a couple of miles outside of the city in the bucolic countryside, and it’s a lovely walk to his house.  He was gracious enough to allow me to spend most of the day in his company, chatting about Old Tom and golf history while he worked on an illustration for a job he was doing.  He has a large collections of books in his collection and let me peruse them, and even allowed me to go out into his front yard and swing the replica clubs he has that are like those Old Tom and Allan Robertson used.  Very neat stuff.

During the course of that afternoon we talked about all sorts of stuff – his dealings with Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw, and Peter Alliss, of the fun he had working with John Cleese on the commercials, of Jim Caviezal doing push-ups during the filming of Stroke of Genius, the movie about Bobby Jones, and how a scene with David was sacrificed to the cutting-room floor.  Oh, I had a hell of a time.  He also informed me that the first annual St. Andrews Golf Festival was to take place the following week, five days of speakers and exhibits on all things golf.  How lucky could I be, I thought?

I saw him at events during the Golf Festival, including his opening night talk on Old Tom and the awards show at Younger Hall, where Bobby Jones had received the Freedom of the City award in 1958, joining Benjamin Franklin as the only Americans to be bestowed this honor.  David did a Q and A session with the evening’s hostess Pat Norton for about 40 minutes, and they showed videos of Bobby Jones and Mike Reeder, a Vietnam vet who shot a 79 on the Old Course from a wheelchair in 2010.  It was a wonderful evening full of emotion and the director of the festival, Richard Wax, did a heck of a job in pulling it all together.

The last night I was in St. Andrews I was able to catch up with David one last time at the Dunvegan, and bought him a couple pints as he offered his impressions of the Festival and how they can make it better.  I volunteered my services for the next one, since I consider myself a good manager of projects.  Before I left he showed me again the seat Tip Anderson used to occupy as a regualr of the place.  Tip caddied for Arnold Palmer and helped Tony Lema win the 1964 Open.  People come and people go, I thought to myself, but the memories remain and nobody can take those from us.

David told me before we parted that night that we’d keep in touch, and I hope we do.  He is a character in the nicest sense of the word, an artist, an actor, a scholar, a wonderful raconteur (have him tell you the story of Gladys Cheape and the wedding), and a very gracious gentleman to put up with my million questions.  Thank you David and I can’t wait to see your new book (with illustrations of all the Open champions).  I hope to see you again soon.

Words of Wisdom for the New Golf Season

March 3, 2012

Here in Oregon it rains from October through April and we see the sun about once a week (no joke!)  We don’t have snow but the cold moist air chills you to the bone, and doesn’t move one to get the clubs out and head for the course.  Our games go on the shelf along with the clubs, and when we dare to venture out and start anew, our first efforts can be ugly, disheartening, and downright frightening.  I know I feel that way when I alternately blade and chunk a few simple pitch shots in the backyard and wonder if I have ever played the game before.  In these moments the words of the immortal Bobby Jones hearten my fragile golfing soul.  He maintained that “The most trying time of the year for the golfer is always the time when he comes out of hibernation and begins to tune his game back to the point where he can enjoy it.  After a long winter layoff, each club feels like a broom handle and each ball when struck transmits a shock up the shaft which makes the player think he has hit a lump of iron.”  This makes me feel a little better coming from one of the best golfers of all-time.  So I’ll keep at it until the broom handle feels like a golf club again and I remember I haven’t forgotten how to play the game.  Hope you all can do the same.  Good luck.

Bobby Jones and Fate

February 19, 2012

I believe in Bobby Jones’s belief that fate determines the outcome of golf tournaments.  Kyle Stanley’s experience in the past month attests to this.  At San Diego he came to the last hole with a 4 shot lead.  Brandt Snedeker birdies ahead of him to cut the lead to 3, then Stanley makes an 8 and loses in the playoff.  The next week Stanley wins in Phoenix when the wheels fall off Spencer Levin.  In the 1923 U.S. Open Bobby Jones had a 3 shot lead with two holes to go and finished bogey, double bogey to fall into a playoff.  He won the playoff, and that was the beginning of his 13 major championships.  If he hadn’t maybe he never would have won anything.  Just ask Jan Van de Velde, who never overcame his collapse at the 1999 British Open.  Fate.  Greg Norman almost did the impossible and won the 2008 British Open, but didn’t and Tom Watson lead until the last cruel bounce on the 72nd hole in 2009.  It wasn’t meant to be.  But Watson won in Hawaii six months later over Fred Couples, when his full wedge shot from the rough rolled up the green to six feet and stopped.  At Turnberry it rolled over the green.  He made the birdie putt and won in Hawaii – it was meant to be.  At Turnberry he missed from eight feet and lost the playoff.  It wasn’t meant to be.  We can’t fight fate, we just do our best and see what happens.  We can’t fight fate, just ask Jack Nicklaus about the 1986 Masters.

Bobby Jones and the 1923 U.S. Open

February 17, 2012

Golf is a game of “long-memory,” with a compelling history going back an incredible 500 years.  Yet for all the evolutionary changes in equipment, technique and course architecture, the essence of this game has remained the same.  Men and women compete against each other and an opponent which is nature itself – the course – in a game that pits self against self.  Many can play the game and shoot great scores, but when the pressure is on champions have a tenacious ability to control their gut-wrenching nerves, to not fear the moment, but seize it and make it theirs for all-time.

Two generations before the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, a 14-year old wunderkind from Georgia burst onto the national scene, bringing with him the weighty expectations of an adoring public.  For the next nine years, however, his road was far from easy, as he struggled with inner demons – a fierce temper and nagging doubt – that kept him from realizing the greatness born inside him.  Through many disappointments and close calls, he persevered; he chewed on adversity and became stronger for it.  1923 arrived, and he wondered if it would be any different.  Fate, he believed, determined who won tournaments and maybe fate was against him.  He was wrong, for on July 15th of that year at the Inwood Country Club in Long Island, New York, twenty-one year Bobby Jones won his first major championship. 

If anyone survives to testify to what they experienced that summer afternoon, they are the envy of those of us who love golf and its history.  Just as today’s youngsters have been fortunate to see Tiger Woods win championships, and those of my generation were fortunate to see Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, so were those of Jones’s generation, especially on this day.

Much had happened to Jones since his debut in the 1916 U.S. Amateur at Merion Golf and Cricket Club in Pennsylvania.  Walter Travis, the grand “Old Man” of golf who in the first decade of the 20th century had won U.S. and British Amateur championships while in his forties, had observed Jones at Merion.  He contended that young master Jones had all the necessary shots in his repertoire to be a great player, but would have to learn a good deal more about playing them if he was to reach his full potential.

Year by year, Jones did just that, honing his game and learning from his experiences.  He would earn victories in smaller tournaments, but by 1923 was still waiting to win a big one – one that would validate him as a great player.  Jones saw that year’s U.S. Open as a major crossroad in his career.  As he described it in his book Down the Fairway, “The whole heft of responsibility seems to have hit me at Inwood – the idea of being a great golfer (as people kept saying) who couldn’t win.”  Jones was a fatalist, believing that the outcome of a tournament was determined before the first shot was ever struck, and that the players were simply playing out roles already chosen for them.  With such a notion planted in his mind, he just went out and played as well as he could, ready to let the chips fall where they may.

One could argue that Jones, based on his previous finishes in the tournament, was destined to win a U.S. Open one day.  In his first attempt in 1920 (where he was paired with the great Harry Vardon in the early rounds), he finished 8th.  He improved to 5th in 1921, and was runner-up to Gene Sarazen in 1922 (where victory had been in his reach until he played the penultimate hole badly.)

In those days, the U.S. Open was played over two rounds of 36 holes each, and Jones opened the championship at Inwood with scores of  71, 73, trailing Jock Hutchison by two shots at the half way point.  Jones’s mediocre 76 after the third round was still good enough to put him three shots clear of Bobby Cruickshank, who shot a 78, and four ahead of Hutchinson, who had a disastrous 82.   Paired with defending champion Sarazen, Jones began his final round in an inauspicious way, taking a bogey 5 at the short 343-yard 1st.  He immediately righted himself, parring the next three holes, then nearly eagled the 519-yard 5th.  Settling for a tap-in birdie there, he parred the 6th, and turned his attention to the 7th hole, a narrow, difficult 223-yard three-par.  It proved to be a nemesis for Jones that day.  After making a double-bogey there in the third round, Jones came to it one last time and hooked his tee shot left of the green, with the ball hitting a spectator and coming to rest out of bounds.  He recovered bravely by hitting the green with his next shot and almost made the putt, but still recorded his second double-bogey of the day on the hole.  After this setback, he pulled himself together and parred the last two holes for an outward score of 39.  

The homeward nine began on a good note, as Jones drained a 25-footer for birdie at the short 295-yard 10th, after hitting his approach too hard.  On the 11th he was fortunate to make a 10-footer for par after looking up on his chip shot and leaving the ball well short of the hole.  Two pars followed and “then began a struggle which proved his worth as a golfer,” as a newspaper account of the day described it.   Jones found a bunker on his second shot to the 430-yard 13th, but played a great recovery and made the resulting 5-foot putt to save his par.   After a welcome birdie at the 497-yard 14th, he saved par again at the 173-yard 15th with another spectacular bunker shot to within 3 feet of the hole.  At this point, three pars on the remaining holes would have given him and even par 72 for the round, and secured him an easy victory, but the golfing gods had something else in mind for him.  Jones was a believer in fate, and fate, it seems, was ready for him.

At the 425-yard 16th Jones hit a terrible second shot, a big pull that sailed out of bounds into a parking lot.  It was a shocking mistake for a golfer of Jones’s caliber.  He saved his bogey, however, thanks to the fortuitous bounce his 4th shot took off a mound next to the green, which ricocheted his ball toward the hole.  Jones holed the resulting 6-foot putt, and headed to the next tee lucky to escape so lightly.  So much has been made of Jones’s poor finish that day, but people fail to appreciate the fortitude he showed to save himself from a real disaster after hitting it O.B. on the 70th hole of the championship. 

As is always the case, we remember the shots that stand out at the very end, when the pressure is on, paying little attention to the breaks early in the tournament that could have been the difference between victory and defeat.  We forget the 2-foot putt that was missed on the fifth hole of round one, or the hooked drive that the trees kicked out cleanly into the fairway on the eight hole of the third round, when it could just as easily have gone into the underbrush and led to a huge number.  Jones was trying to focus only on the task at hand, but perhaps the pressure was too much for him after his experience on the 16th, for he kept stumbling home.

Another bogey followed on the 17th, but his lead remained safe when Cruickshank, playing behind him, doubled the 16th after missing the green with his approach and three-putting after a poor chip.  Even with Cruickshank’s par to Jones’s bogey on 17, Jones still held a seemingly insurmountable three stroke lead going to the 72nd hole.  After a decent drive, Jones hooked his second shot left of the green, and then dubbed his pitch squarely into the bunker that lay between himself and the hole.  After blasting out and two-putting for an embarrassing 6, Jones was beside himself, telling his confidant and biographer O.B. Keeler that he had finished the round “like a yellow dog.”  

Cruickshank was still on the course, the only player with a chance to catch Jones.  His double-bogey on the 16th had pushed him to the wall, forcing him to birdie one of the last two holes to tie.  A par on the 17th made things clear.  For anyone else walking to the 18th tee that afternoon, such a challenge would have been do or die situation.  But for Cruickshank, who as a soldier in World War I had seen his brother blown to pieces a few feet from him, and who was later taken prisoner of war, this moment dealt only with playing a game.  Cruickshank had birdied the eighteen in the morning round, so he knew it could be done.  A good tee shot into a freshening wind found the middle of the fairway, but he was still a long way from the green.  He took a 1-iron and hit a career shot over the water guarding the front of the green, the ball flying on a line right at the hole and coming to rest 6 feet from it.  The normally fast playing Cruickshank took his time lining up the putt, and stroked it right into the heart of the cup.  Pulling the ball out almost before it fell into the bottom of the hole, he is reported to have said in his Scottish accent, “You’ll no get oot o’ there.” An excited crowd threw hats into the air in celebration of the other Bobby’s heroic finish.  

Jones was rendered inconsolable by his tortured finish.  Four strokes up with two to play, he finished 5, 6 to Cruickshank’s 4, 3, a stunning turn of events that forced an 18-hole playoff the next day to determine the champion.  What thoughts must have gone through the mind of Bobby Jones that night as he pondered a playoff?  Golf historian Hebert Warren Wind, in his classic work The Story of American Golf, claimed the double-bogey Jones took on the final hole epitomized his years of failed attempts to win a major championship.  As Wind described it, “There was always something wrong.  At one time it had been inexperience.  He had outgrown it.  Later it had been a wicked temper.  He had conquered it.  Sometimes it had been just plain bad luck.”  Who knew what it was at Inwood, but Jones still hadn’t been able to cross the threshold and find his way as a major champion. 

For Jones, the playoff offered a chance for redemption.  Recounting his feelings in Down the Fairway, Jones described Cruickshank’s birdie at the 72nd as “one of the greatest holes ever played in golf.  It was far and away the greatest for me.  It gave me a chance to get square with myself.”  Jones contended that had Cruickshank parred or bogeyed the last hole, “I’d never have felt I had won the championship.”  The play-off was an opportunity to prove himself as a true champion and test his courage and tanacity – to get square with himself.  

 As the two competitors teed off at two o’clock Sunday afternoon to decide the winner, Jones recalled that he “felt alright as we started, only sort of numb.”  It was a back and forth match all the way.  Cruckshank demonstrated his sportsmanship early on, when he raised his hand at the second hole to quiet the crowd as Jones prepared to stroke his three-foot putt for par.  Cruickshank was up by 2 shots after six holes, thanks to birdies at the third and fifth (and aided by a missed 18-inch putt by Jones at the 6th), but they ended up tied at the turn.  The seventh, which had posed such a problem for Jones the day before, was parred by him this time, after he reached the green with a brave 3-wood. Cruickshank bogeyed it, and added another bogey at the ninth.  It is interesting to note that Jones recalled feeling extreme tension when he stepped up to the tee shot on the 7th, proof that even champion golfers have trouble forgetting bad shots easily! 

On the back side, the strain began to show, as Jones bogeyed and Cruickshank double-bogeyed the short 295-yard 10th.  Jones jumped out to a two shot lead with a short birdie putt at the 108-yard 12th.  They split the 13th with par 4’s.  Cruickshank’s birdie on the par-5 14th cut the lead to one after a perplexed Jones three-putted from 50 feet for a par.  A Cruickshank bogey on the par-3 15th evened the match, when Jones took 5, flubbing a pitch shot after his tee shot ran through the green.  

Jones took the lead again on the 425-yard 16th, making a routine par while Cruickshank couldn’t get up and down from a greenside bunker.  On the 17th Jones hooked his tee shot into the left rough, while Cruickshank hit an even wilder shot, pulling it so far left that it ended up in the 16th fairway.  He hit a good recovery shot from there, but it ended up in a bunker.  Jones could not take advantage of his opponent’s misfortune, however, and followed Cruickshank into the same bunker.  Jones played out well short of the hole with his third, while Cruickshank hit a fantastic explosion to within two feet.  Jones missed his difficult uphill putt.  The pressure was getting to both players, as Cruickshank nearly missed his putt, jamming it into the back of the hole and nervously watching it rattle around before settling inside the cup.  So there they were, still tied after 89 holes.  As Jones recalled, “The strain had killed us off; anyway it had killed me.”  For a man who would lose as much as eighteen pounds during the course of a tournament due to nervous tension, this must have been excruciating for Jones, especially as his thoughts drifted back to the events of twenty-four hours earlier.

The 18th hole was a stout test for those days, a 425-yard par-4.  Cruickshank hit a bad drive, some described it as a half top down the left side of the fairway, so poor in fact that he had no chance of reaching the green with his second shot, especially since it was guarded in front by a water hazard.   Jones followed with a drive that was pushed into the right rough, but found a favorable lie.  Seeing Cruickshank lay up a little over 100 yards short of the green with his second shot, perhaps Jones felt a bit of relief, perhaps his mind was freer of doubt, for he played his own second shot decisively. 

Had he caught it thin or fat and put it in the water, who knows what might have been.  The hole that Jones had butchered the day before with a double-bogey was about to take its place in the revered “long-memory” of golf history.  At that moment the golfing gods looked down on Robert Tyre Jones, Jr. and said, “It’s your time.”  From a bare lie to the right of the fairway, some 200 yards from the hole, he pulled out his hickory shafted 2-iron, with its butter-knife thin head, and hit a bullet of a shot that covered the flag all the way, coming down as close to the hole as his competitor’s second shot had been the day before.  Jones friend and home pro Stewart Maiden, who was following Jones in the gallery, said later that Jones had never played a shot more promptly or decisively as that second on the 18th.   

It was sublime justice, and Cruickshank had no answer to it.  In the words of a New York Times newspaperman who covered the event, it was a shot that “in addition to proving Jones’s capabilities as one of the finest shot-makers in the world and one of the most courageous fighters in the world, will take its place among the epochal strokes that are a part of golf’s lengthy history.”  Not mere hyperbole, this statement proved itself a prophetic truth.   Seeing the result of Jones’s shot for the ages, Cruckshank, fighter that he was, didn’t give in.  He walked up the length of the fairway to measure the shot, knowing he had to get his ball up and down to have any chance to tie Jones.  But he pulled the shot left into the bunker, finished with a six, and afforded Jones the luxury of two easy putts for the victory.  In a show of sportsmanship, Cruickshank went over to Jones and offered him his hand, which Jones shook.  Jones then took two strokes to hole the putt his wondrous second shot had left him, and it was over. 

With the final putts holed, the crowds rushed the green to congratulate the champion.  Jones recounted that “the first conscious thought I had was: ‘I don’t care what happens now.  I had won a championship.’”  Two fellow Georgians in the crowd, who had traveled all the way from Atlanta to see him play, hoisted a smiling Jones onto their shoulders and carried him toward the clubhouse as a man played bagpipes.  

The next day the Times told the story, almost with a sense of relief, that Jones victory had “finally fulfilled the predictions made in his behalf by ardent admirers ever since he had flashed into prominence in 1916.”  It had wiped away years of Jones’s failures and near-misses, which had become so heartbreaking by 1923 that “even the most enthusiastic admirers had lost faith in his ability to shake off the jinx that seemed to be pursuing him.”  Now the jinx was broken, and with this triumph began the “seven fat years,” which writer O.B. Keeler attached to the period which saw Jones win 13 major championships before retiring in 1930, a living legend of the game. 

Indeed, the 2-iron Jones hit over that marshy pond to seal the victory is notched in the collective memory of all those who appreciate the history of this great game.  It connects the past and present, as Jones shared with the current generation of great players the burdensome yoke of unrealized expectations.  Good luck to all the “Mr. and Ms. Sure Things” to come.  I’m sure the spirit of Mr. Jones can sympathize with your predicament.